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article imageMoscow's iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral turns 450

By Christopher Szabo     Jul 12, 2011 in World
Moscow - Russia celebrates the 450th anniversary of Moscow’s iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral with an exhibition to its name giver, Saint Basil, known as the “holy fool” for defying Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible, who apparently feared the holy man’s powers
The Moscow Times says the saint wore no clothes, not even in the freezing Russian winter. He was feared by the murderous Tsar Ivan, who was reputed to have killed as many as 60,000 people in one massacre alone.
Despite this, Ivan seems to have believed the saint could see into his soul, so respected him, and one chronicle states he personally carried the saint’s coffin to its gravesite outside the castle, or Kremlin, of Moscow.
The exhibition is also unusual as the cathedral does not belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, but to the State after it was nationalised during Communist times. Deputy Culture Minister Andrei Busygin says of the building:
“This cathedral is a shrine and a symbol of Russia, it’s a miracle that it survived at all.” Ria Novosti carried a report about the festivals, pointing out that July 12 was the day the Cathedral, originally called the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, and was completed. It later became known as the Cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed. Google used the image of the church for its daily doodle. Museum director Tatyana Sacheva said in an interview with the Russian agency:
“We celebrate July 12 as the cathedral’s birthday as it was consecrated on that day, the day its construction was completed 450 years ago. We know the exact date from an inscription in the cathedral’s Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin. The inscription reads, ‘… the Cathedral of the Intercession was consecrated on the Day of Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles.’”
Sacheva added:
“Visitors will be greeted at the entrance by a guard dressed to resemble Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible’s Streltsy. Members of the guard will explain the day’s importance to the visitors. On July 12, the museum will stay open longer than usual, until 10 pm, and admission will be free. The day will culminate with a bell-ringing gala, where bell ringers of the Moscow Kremlin will show their art.
That’s not all. She said:
“Festivities will resume in October. October 14 is Intercession Day, after which the cathedral and its central church have been named. A variety of events have been planned for that period, with the main one being an international symposium ‘St. Basil’s Cathedral in Russian History.’”
The Telegraph says the Cathedral suffered both from foreign invaders, like Napoleon, and local Communists, who targeted it during the Russian civil war and later wanted to level it. It was in fact severely damaged during the Communist coup and subsequent war and famine.
Communist leaders wanted to blow up the building after persecuting millions of believers starting immediately on their seizure of power, in line with Communist Party’s avowal of atheism, according to the teachings of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
Despite the Communists and others doing their worst, the iconic building now celebrates 450 years of existence and will likely give inspiration to many Russians in future, as it did in the past.
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